The City of Clearwater is launching a new Property Redevelopment Assistance Program, and under discussion is whether a half-billion-dollar makeover of the Philadelphia Phillies spring training facilities qualifies for the program.
The team is planning a $320-million BayCare Ballpark renovation and the construction of a new $250-million Ballpark Village south of the ballpark as part of the makeover of the makeover of the Philadelphia Phillies spring training facilities. The BayCare Ballpark renovation would include the addition of 2,000 seats and perhaps an outfield pool, while a 13-acre mall location immediately south of the ballpark would converted to a new entryway for the ballpark, complete with residential and retail. Right now access to the ballpark is a little troublesome; while the western entry features the lovely statue shown above, it’s a little cramped and poses accessibility issues.
The ballpark is also home to the Single-A Clearwater Threshers of the Florida State League. The plan would also provide upgrades to the Carpenter Complex, including the addition of a performance center.
The proposal comes at a time when the city is launching a new Property Redevelopment Assistance Program aimed at specific geographic areas within the city, according to a promoted article from the city: “Targeted areas within the city limits include a seven-mile stretch of U.S. 19 from Belleair Road to Curlew Road, the Hercules Road industrial district, downtown Clearwater and other parcels of sizable acreage and assemblage potential. Clearwater economic development staff are engaging property owners to find out what they can do on their behalf, in collaboration with other city departments, to facilitate development opportunities in the city. This phase of engaging with property owners is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.”
The fact that the Phillies are thinking big with their notion of a spring-training development and not just looking to adapt the old mall location seems to be resonating with city officials:
“Our understanding is concepts under consideration include a mixed-use redevelopment that complements the proposed stadium renovations,” says Dylan Mayeux, senior real estate coordinator with the city, of the Phillies’ proposed Baseball Village. “It’s central to Clearwater and Pinellas County and could serve as a model for other developers in the future.”
Mayeux believes a revamped baseball complex in the form of a mixed-use development may inspire other large-scale projects in the area. An area such as the U.S. 19 corridor is certainly ripe for redevelopment given the large number of properties along that busy stretch of highway that currently have low-density retail uses on them.
“It’s an opportunity for property owners to reimagine their properties and create mixed-use, live-work-play communities,” Mayeux says.
Right now the program isn’t providing direct aid to developers. In the past use of the Pinellas County hotel tax has been discussed as a potential part of any redevelopment funding for Philadelphia Phillies spring training. The bed tax being used for spring training is not unusual: $41.7 million of bed tax money was used to fund renovations to TD Ballpark and an overhaul of the Toronto Blue Jays’ training complex. The budget for that project: $108 million. The bed tax has also been mentioned as a possible funding source if the Tampa Bay Rays end up with a new St. Petersburg ballpark.
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